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Lawrence & friends fry turkeys for homeless

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Country singer and 16-year Wilson County resident Tracy Lawrence led the charge at his fourth Mission Possible Turkey Fry yesterday at Nashville Rescue Mission in downtown Nashville as about 400 turkeys were deep fried. The turkeys with all the traditional trimmings will be served to about 5,000 homeless people today and tomorrow. 

Ken Beck/ The Wilson Post

By KEN BECKSpecial to The Wilson Post

The skies were gray but the smiles were sunny Tuesday morning as country music star and Wilson County resident Tracy Lawrence along with a hundred volunteers deep fried about 400 turkeys in downtown Nashville.

The occasion was Lawrence’s fourth Mission Possible Turkey Fry, a benefit for Nashville Rescue Mission. The Mission will serve the turkeys with all the trimmings to 5,000 homeless men, women and children Wednesday and Thursday as it marks the Mission’s 55th annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet.

“ I’ve been cooking turkey for family and friends for the last several years, and I thought it would translate for the Mission, and it has grown and grown,” said Lawrence, 41, who was wearing a Titleist ball cap, Burchett Ford T-shirt, blue jeans, boots and sunglasses while surveying more than 30 silver pots as the holiday meal birds were frying in oil.

“This event is one of my favorites of the year. It’s a true and heartfelt gesture by all; I’m in awe each year in the support from my friends and the community who come out to lend a hand, make a donation, and fry up some turkeys,” Lawrence said.

The volunteers wore bright yellow Mission Possible T-shirts as they worked, while hundreds of fans came and went, making donations, retrieving autographs and having their photos snapped with Lawrence.

Joining in on the outdoor fry festivities before lunchtime yesterday in the parking lot of the Nashville Rescue Mission were singers Trent Tomlinson, Keith Burns and Michelle Poe of Burns & Poe, and Preston Brust of the LoCash Cowboys.

S ince Lawrence conceived of the turkey fry three years ago, he and his pals have donated more than 4,000 turkeys, meals valued at $84,000 and raised more than $100,000 for the Mission. 

 

About 100 volunteers assisted with the Mission Possible Turkey Fry including, from left, country music singers Trent Tomlinson, Lebanon’s Keith Burns, Michelle Poe and Mt. Juliet’s Tracy Lawrence.

Ken Beck/ The Wilson Post

“We’re gonna cook 400 turkeys. That’s about all they can handle. The event draw awareness of the mission and a world of media attention. I got here a little after 6:30 a.m. and we’ll cook until 3:30 and wrap it up by dark. I’ve been doing this a few years. I don’t even cook much now, just hang out and watch,” said Lawrence, who lives with his wife Becca in the Mt. Juliet area.

“The Mission stands ready to help, hug and hold a hand. They encourage and guide their residents toward a life of faith,” Lawrence has said in the past in helping promote the organization. (Lawrence’s “Up To Him” is among the 140+ videos in the running for GAC’s Top 50 videos of 2009.)

Nashville Rescue Mission today resides off Lafayette in the building that was the old Sears store. Its goal remains the same: to restore hope by sharing the greatest gift of all — Jesus Christ.

As for the 400 fried turkeys, “These will be for tomorrow and Thursday for the homeless men and women that we will feed,” said Michelle Brinson, newsletter editor and marketing coordinator for the Mission.

Last month, Lawrence, the voice behind such No. 1 country hits as “Sticks and Stones,” “Alibis,” “Time Marches On” and “Find Out Who Your Friends Are,” performed a concert for troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (“it was pretty cool,” he said), and Friday he hits the road again for a Saturday night concert at Billy Bobs Texas in Fort Worth.

 Food for the hungry

Three hundred and fifty missions nationwide serve over a half million meals to the needy on Thanksgiving.More than 5,000 traditional meals will be served during the Nashville Rescue Mission’s Great Thanksgiving Banquet today and tomorrow.

The mission will serve 9,000 pounds of turkey, 1,000 pounds of potatoes, 100 gallons of gravy, 800 pounds of green beans, 600 pounds of dressing, 5,000 rolls and 250 pies.

Volunteers serve over 20,000 hours annually at the mission.

For more information, go online to www.nashvillerescuemission.org.Country singer and Wilson County resident Tracy Lawrence has led the turkey fry for four years. For more info on the singer, go to www.tracylawrence.com.

But Thursday, he will be at home deep frying more turkey.

“I’ll be doing our Thanksgiving meal the same way. That’s actually when I cook,” said the singer, whose latest musical offering is “The Rock,” an inspirational-country album.

Turkey chef Tracy Lawrence says he will be “very tired” at the end of this day, but he knows that today and tomorrow a whole lot more people will be very full.

Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at kbtag2@gmail.com

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